“To be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. I am not a teacher, only a fellow student.” — Søren Kierkegaard
Inspired by the quote above (which is the anchor of my teaching philosophy), I have been learning while teaching for a decade. Ten years ago today — on Monday, June 18, 2007 — I began my career in academia when I started teaching COM 120, Effective Persuasive Writing online at what was then called Axia College (University of Phoenix‘s online junior college).
It’s hard to believe that much time has passed; it feels like just yesterday when I began my career in academia after having previously consulted and worked in marketing. Technically I started teaching on September 2, 2006 when I taught my first traffic school class, but this was my first academic course. Since that first step I have embarked on a much longer journey. I have had the opportunity to teach and learn with more than 4,500 students in over 80 classes — in the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and online.
Acting as a “guide on the side” and not a “sage on the stage,” I combine learning with laughter and encourage students to pursue their individual ideas. Having taught students of various ages, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds, I am especially sensitive to the diverse challenges with which my students might be contending.
I join with my students on a journey of generative learning. Sensitive to the unique experiences, challenges, and learning styles of adult learners, I assign projects relevant to their personal and professional perspectives. Believing education should create community, not competition, I combine learning with laughter to construct a collaborative classroom. Interdisciplinary, I welcome varied viewpoints and encourage my students to own their education.
I have been fortunate to have taught for numerous notable educational institutions including American University in the Emirates (AUE), Jumeira University, Musicians Institute, National University, Strayer University, UCLA Extension. and UC Santa Barbara Extension. Actively involving myself in higher education, I have embraced academia as both my vocation and avocation.
I have spoken at academic conferences; written a book, a book chapter, and several scholarly papers; conducted corporate training seminars; appeared on three podcasts; and made a 1.5 second appearance in Star Trek Beyond as an extra! I was also honored with an award from AUE recognizing my program development efforts for the College of Business Administration.
The past 10 years have been filled with personal growth and professional development; I have improved as an individual just as I have expanded my abilities as an educator. I look forward to many more years of continuous improvement in both areas. These years have not been without their challenges and setbacks, but I remain grateful to my colleagues, friends, family, mentors, and students for the chance to help shape the lives of others, while giving my life greater meaning.